Greetings from sunny Milan – the venue for the third BIO-Europe Spring meeting, where I am representing GEN, one of the sponsors of the meeting. Although I hear mutterings about tough times at the opening reception, delegates seem generally upbeat and pleased to be here. First person I meet is Sashi Kiran, MD of D2L Pharma Research Solutions, a clinical research company based in Banglalore, who says the volume of work coming to his company is increasing. And, after recent news that the Malaysian government has set aside $3 billion for healthcare, focusing on R & D, it’s interesting to chat to Lim Choon Leng CSO of the microarray company Olipro Biotechnology. His company is among nearly 100 Malaysian biotechs who benefit from BioNexus status, which gives them big tax breaks.
This sends me to the ‘official opening’ of the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation booth – the only one with a big orange ribbon to cut. Here I learn that although biotech is young in Malaysia, 10% of biotechs are making a profit and therefore benefiting from the tax break scheme – green and clean biotech companies being the ones making the money, with biopharmas having a way to go.
Meanwhile, venture capitalist Steve Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Co, has a new book out - ‘Navigating the Sea Change’ - which is all about the financial times we are in. A sea change, he reminded us, was generally a positive thing. He was sharing a platform with Italian biotech leaders and pointed out that of 2,000 proposals his company receives each year, none have come from Italy. But that’s surely not a reflection on the hard work, great ideas and enthusiasm of the many Italian delegates at this meeting – hopefully Burrill’s words will prove inspirational.